Kipperberg legacy continues to grow

Thanks to the Kipperberg family, there is now a new credo when it comes to the Mat Classic: The family that wrestles together, wins together.

South Kitsap senior Josiah Kipperberg became the second member of his family to claim a state wrestling title, winning the 112-pound division on Saturday Night at Mat Classic XVIII in Tacoma.

Josiah’s older brother Derek won the family’s first title by taking the 119-pound title in 2002.

“That was so cool,” Josiah said after his win. “My brother was here four years ago, and for me to repeat on that, for me, it makes me feel so good, especially since everything I pretty much know is from my brother.”

Josiah’s 4-2 overtime victory win over Brian Owen of University capped off a stellar high school career that included a fourth-place finish a year ago. Four Kipperbergs have placed at least once in the top eight at the Mat Classic dating back to 2001.

Derek and Aaron started the trend by finishing fourth and sixth, respectively. Derek won his title the next year, while Micah picked up the family mantle and placed seventh in 2003 and sixth in 2004.

Not bad by any family standards.

“This is so exciting in how all my children embrace their brothers and their sisters,” Josiah’s father Scott Kipperberg said. “They are so supportive of one another, it’s almost unexplainable. All seven of my children are here and I’m proud of every one of them.”

Although a state title in itself is quite an accomplishment, the path that Kipperberg took to his was most impressive. After knocking off Graham-Kapowsin’s Jack Miller in the first round, he ended up defeating the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers on his way to Mat Classic glory.

In the quarterfinals, Kipperberg downed Auburn’s Matt Sencenbaugh, who knocked him out of the winner’s bracket last year, 9-2 before taking down Joel Robbins of Eastmont by the same score in the semifinals.

Robbins ended up placing third in the tourney while Sencenbaugh was fourth.

“He’s such a tough kid,” South coach Chad Nass said. “I’m really, really proud of the way he hung in there and just kept going after (Owen). He was determined to get him and he never left up. He’s such a hard worker, and to see all that hard work pay off is just so special. I’m at a loss for words.”

Kipperberg said he remembered sitting in the Tacoma Dome stands four years ago watching brother Derek win the 119-pound title, making a vow to someday do the same.

Saturday night, it was Derek’s turn to watch Josiah win his.

“That’s probably one of the best matches I’ve ever seen,” said Derek Kipperberg, who finished third in the nation two years ago as a 141-pounder at North Idaho Junior College and now wrestles at Oregon State. “He went out there and wrestled tough and just kept after it. It was unbelievable.”

Derek went on to say that Josiah’s title match was more enjoyable than his own.

But that should not surprise anyone that knows the Kipperberg’s. They are a family’s family

“I think part of it is, since they’ve been little, I’ve been wrestling with them,” Scott Kipperberg said. “They love the sport and they’ve excelled at the sport because of the family unity that they have. They’ve excelled because they are blessed by not just the coaches at South but the many, many coaches that have gone out of their way to help my sons wrestle. I think part of it is that we are such a close-knit family and my sons go out of their way to please me and make me look good.”

All four have done just that, although Micah needed a little bit of pushing from Derek and Aaron to get going.

But all have made their marks, working hard both in the SK mat room and the one they built themselves at their home in Olalla.

“It’s not a good place you want to walk in and say you want to wrestle,” Scott Kipperberg said,” unless you’re serious.”

“Good things happen to good people,” South coach Chad Nass said. “And they’re good people.”

And there’s one more Kipperberg to come. Youngest brother Simon, who is 15, is next in line to make his mark on the Tacoma Dome floor.

“He likes to wrestle,” Scott Kipperberg said. “And I know he will get encouragement and instruction from his brothers.”

And most likely, be as successful.

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